Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Mattos-Masay Volume 14, Number 22
This weeks Weekly Rashi with Hebrew/English source tables
Is accessible at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1422.htm
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The goal of this Weekly Rashi Digest is to use the weekly Torah portion to expose students at all levels to the ten major methods of commentary used by Rashi. It is hoped that continual weekly exposure to these ten major methods will enable students of all levels to acquire a familiarity and facility with the major exegetical methods. Although I frequently use my own English translations of biblical verses and Rashi comments, the Hebrew and English translations in the source tables are derived from online parshah files at chabad.org who in turn acknowledges the Judaica Press Complete Tanach, copyright by Judaica Press.
Verse Nu35-12a, discussing the creation of refuge cities for accidental murderers states And they shall be to you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the man slayer should not die, until he stands before the congregation in judgement. Rashi clarifies the underlined words refuge from the avenger by referencing verse(s) Dt19-06, discussing a case of accidental murderer which states Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; though he was not deserving of death, since in times past he did not hate him. Hence the Rashi comment: When Nu35-12a discusses designating cities for refuge from the avenger it refers to saving the murderer from an avenging murderer who would not receive the death penalty as indicated in Dt19-06.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi does not explicitly bring down Dt19-06. Rashi simply comments on the word avenger by stating: From the avenger of blood that is a relative of the murdered. However, a careful examination shows that Nu35-12 uses the word avenger while Dt19-06 uses the phrase avenger of blood. Rashi chose this phrase - avenger of blood - so as to refer to Dt19-06. Dt19-06 clarifies Nu35-12 since it explicitly indicates the lack of a death penalty if the avenger of blood kills the murderer. For this reason we have classified this Rashi as using the reference method even though no explicit reference is made. Such non explicit reference Rashis occur frequently. As can be seen Rashi can use non-explicit nuancing when using the reference method.
When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.
In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach, which can be found on the world-wide-web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting Rashi comments. The following translation of verse Nu35-22 embeds the Rashi translation Petha means unexpectedly. But if he thrust him unexpectedly without enmity, or hurled upon him any thing without lying in wait,
Advanced Rashi: We have translated the words Pithom and Petha as meaning suddenly and unexpectedly based on context. This may also be partially supported by the resemblance of the Pay-Tauv-Ayin and Pay-Tauv-Cheth roots. Pay-Tauv-Cheth means Door. So unexpectedly in Hebrew means from behind the door; a concept indicating nearby and present but unseen so it is unexpected. There is a certain amount of conjecture in our translations since there are very few verses with either of the words and the etymologies although possibly supportive don't prove anything.
The above interactions between the translations and details in Jewish law afford us a rare glimpse at the interaction of language and law.
Most people know that the Biblical meaning of a word is determined by its underlying three-letter root. The Biblical root can be conjugated in different a) persons, b) tenses, c) pluralities, d) genders, e) constructions and f) modalities. For example I watched has a different conjugation then I will be watched even though both phrases will use the same 3 letter Hebrew root.
Rashi explains that the infinitive form can also indicate attribution. Hence Rashi translates Nu35-32b discussing the prohibition of bribes from residents of the refuge cities, as And you shall take no ransom for him who has fleed to his city of refuge, that he should come back to live in the land, until the death of the priest.
Advanced Rashi: We have followed our custom of embedding the Rashi comment in the body of the translation. Rashi also discusses the possibility of translating the Hebrew as the infinitive. In such a case the verse would read And you shall take no ransom to flee to his city of refuge, that he should come back to live in the land, until the death of the priest. Rashi rejects this as not making sense: Why should a person outside the refuge city need to bribe to come back to live in the land? For this reason Rashi interprets the infinitive form as indicating attribution. Rashi also brings several other examples.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu34-18, Nu34-29. Both verses/verselets discuss the tribal representatives who participated in the apportionment of Israel to the Jews. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The conjugation of the two verbs in Nu34-18,Nu34-29 are different. Nu34-18 uses a conjugation indicating an active voice while Nu34-29 uses a conjugation indicating an intensive voice. The alignment suggests that the two voices have different meanings. We translate the active voice as indicating inheritance and we translate the intensive voice (Piel) as indicating causation, transfer of inheritance. In other words, the representatives besides causing transference of inheritance of Israel to their respective tribes also particpated in the inheritance and inherited land with their tribes [I think the emphasis is that the representatives were not outside the apportionment process but rather part of it. Good reps should particpate and not be non-involved.]
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi can equivalantly be derived by the grammar principle since Nu34-18 uses the active voice while Nu34-29 uses the intensive voice. As is well known the intensive voice can sometimes refer to causative action (The Piel and Hifil voices can both indicate causality.) I have classified this Rashi as primarily using the alignment method since the intensive voice by itself does not imply causality. Rather it is the combination of different voices plus the alignment that drives the Rashi inference.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the outskirts of the Levite cities The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says the outskirts of the city will be 1000 cubits while the other verse says from the city border to end will be 2000 cubits. Which is it? Are the outskirts 1000 or 2000 cubits Rashi simply resolves this using the 2-aspects method: a) The outskirt of the city - the place set aside for gardens and city beautification - occupied 1000 cubits. b) The remainder of outside of the city - the next 1000 cubits - was set aside for planting fields and vineyards.
Advanced Rashi: Today we have a special treat. Normally we only review Rashi in this email group. However as the yearly cycles grow repetitiously we try and add items. Today we add a controversy between the Rambam and Rashi on how to interpret these contradictory verses. For if the contradiction method only explained Rashi it would not be universal but specific to one commentator. Our goal in this email list is to show that the 10 Rashi methods and 30 Submethods are universal to all commentators. To prove this we must show how the Rambam, using the same method, arrived at a different conclusion!
While Rashi resolves the contradiction presented above using the 2 aspects method, Rambam resolves the contradiction presented above using the 2 stages method. The Rambam holds that in the first stage of creating city outskirts we lay out 1000 cubits on each side for city gardens and city beautification; in the 2nd stage of creating city outskirts we measure out an additional 2000 cubits on each side of the city plus garden outskirts. These 2000 cubits are for planting fields and vineyards.
Thus the superficial controversy between Rashi and Rambam is whether we have 2000 cubits of outskirts (Rashi) or 3000 cubits of outskirts (1000 cubits plus 2000 cubits according to Rambam).
But the deep controversy between Rashi and Rambam is whether we resolve the contradiction through the 2 aspects or 2 stages method.
As the yearly cycle evolves we hope to have more applications of our 10 basic methods and 30 submethods to controversies among the early authorities.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in an example form. In other words an example of a law is stated rather than the full general rule. The reader's task is to generalize the example. The idea that all Biblical laws should be perceived as examples (unless otherwise indicated) is explicitly stated by Rashi (Pesachim 6.). This is a rule of style since the rule requires that a text be perceived as an example rather than interpreted literally. The Rabbi Ishmael style rules govern the interpretation of style.
Verses Nu35-23:25 discussing negligent murder which leads to banishment to the refuge cities states Or with any stone, whereby a man may die, without seeing him, and he felt it upon him, that he died, and he was not his enemy, nor sought his harm; Then the congregation shall judge ... And the congregation shall deliver the slayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, ... Rashi commenting on the underlined phrases states: A status of willful or negligent murder requires an initial downward (falling) thrust. However a death that took place from something falling after an initial upward thrust - e.g. 1) a person climbing up a ladder who fell, 2) a person climbing up a ladder, one of whose rungs dislodged and fell and 3) a pail carried by a person climbing up a ladder, which subsequently fell and killed - is neither classified as willful nor negligent. [Note: If you throw a knife straight up and it then falls and kills there is no death penalty; but if you threw it sideways and up and it fell and killed there is a death penalty (because in the first case the force killing was gravity while in the latter case there were two forces killing, your initial thrust and gravity.]
Advanced Rashi: Note that there have been several legal citations in todays Weekly Rashi. Several years ago we had a Golden Rambam Rashi series exploring the beautiful relationship between Biblical exegesis and technical Jewish law. The series faded out (primarily because of lack of interest on the readers). However from time to time we still bring citations of Jewish law and explore the exegetical legal interaction.
Very often Rashi will make an inference from the paragraph structure. A typical paragraph structures can be parallel or contrastive with or without bullets. The parallel and contrastive structure naturally generate Rashi comments. This type of inference also follows from the Rabbi Ishmael Style rule of inferring from context since the paragraph structure endows the disparate paragraph sentences with a unified context.
The main point of the Menasheeans is presented in bullet #3. Bullet #4 does not make sense! - what does it add to the inquiry? Rashi explains bullet #4 by interpolating the word [even]. In other words bullet #4 is simply a follow up to bullet #3 - it explains that bullet #3 is permanant without any remedy - for even the Jubilee, which in many other cases frees lost land, does not help here (The Jubilee does not free land lost through inheritance).
We have classified this Rashi as a Rashi based on format. The point here is that Rashi perceives the paragraph Nu36-01:04 as having a supplemental parallel structure: Bullets #3 and #4 supplement each other; bullet #3 states that tribal land is lost while bullet #4 supplements this statement of loss by pointing out that it can not be remedied. As we have explained above such a Rashi inference based on paragraph formatting echoes the Rabbi Ishmael rule of context.
Today we ask the database query: How was the Torah Moses learned from God transmitted to the Jews. The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. These database query yields the list below. The list justifies the following Rashi inference: Moses learned the Torah from God. 1) He taught it to Aaron 2) who taught it to the other priests 3) who then taught it to the Tribal leaders 4) who then taught it to the nation. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples
Advanced Rashi: This is an exciting example of a Rashi derivation. Many people regard the Moses-> Aaron -> Priests -> Tribal leaders -> Israelites midrash as fanciful and either based on oral tradition or else read into the Biblical text to emphasize a so-called development of an emphasis on learning as a primary means of serving God. It is therefore fascinating to see that explicit Biblical texts fully justify this 4-fold method of transmission. The fact that this Rashi comment is the simple meaning of the explicit Biblical texts justifies the statement made by Rav Hirsch that the Jews had a sort of Kollel existence in the Wilderness - they were stipened by God Himself so that they could sit and learn all day (There was nothing else to do). Rav Hirsch is quick to point out that this Kollel type existence only existed in the miraculous wilderness stay and was replaced by normal living - Torah learning with a job - when they entered Israel, left the miracle-based existence, and started leading ordinary non-miraculous lives. We see here the importance of fully investigating and justifying Rashi comments since their intrinsicness to the Biblical text justifies certain attitudes of Jewish philosophy and outlook.
This is a true peach of a Rashi clearly illustrating the database method. We have spoken frequently about the distinct flavor of each Rashi method. The database method is characteristically not punchy and sometimes sketchy. For example, in the Rashi we are studying today there is no explicit statement that Moses spoke to Aaron who taught his sons who taught the elders who taught the Jews. Rather we have partial statements. One verse itemizes most of the 4 sets of people. Another verse indicates a partial sequence. Finally we have verses identifying, but in specific situations, the communication to individual groups. It is therefore tempting to say that Rashi knew of the 4 fold sequence through an oral tradition. This is acceptable but it is not the total explanation. The technical thing to observe is that Rashi has supportive Biblical texts which even if they don't fully justify his assertion strongly point in that direction. Part of the act of learning Torah is finding clear proofs, part is learning oral traditions, and part is identifying supportive proofs. All of these are important and should not be belittled. It is therefore important to gather all the verses together (as we have done with some extra verses of our own) to show how the supportive texts fit together.
In conclusion this is an extremely instructive example of the database method. Those serious students of Rashi who wish to have a proper feel for what they can and what they cannot do with Biblical texts should carefully study this Rashi analysis as a prototypical model.
Chapter Nu33 speaking about the punishment of wanderings for fourty years in the wilderness before entering Israel describes the 42 towns where they stoped. Rashi offers the following spreadsheet analysis:
Verse Nu35-25a states And the congregation shall deliver the negligent murderer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, where he had fled; and he shall live there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.
Rashi comments on the connection between the underlined phrase connecting the death of the high priest to the release of the negligent murderer from the prison city of refuge:A primary task of the Priest is to atone for inadvertency. For example a person who negligently descecrates the Sabbath receives atonement by bringing a sin offering and attending to the procedures performed by the priest. If the priests had done their job perfectly there would be no negligent murders. Consequently when the High Priest dies ( as a punishment for lack of prevention of negligence) the negligent murderer goes free.
We should explain why the death of the priest releases the prisoner. Prior to the death of the priest the blood-avenger blaimed the murder on the murderer's negligence. The blood-avenger may wish to avenge the murder by killing the murderer. However when the High Priest dies a message is sent to the blood avenger: Perhaps the murder is not the murderer's fault. Perhaps it is the priest's fault. If the priests had been more diligent in their prevention of negligence then the murder would not have happened.Since you are not certain whether the negligent murder was the fault of the priest or the murderer you shouldn't want to kill the murderer.